LAS VEGAS – Shakur Stevenson is certain that Al Haymon has strategically sent Edwin De Los Santos to “the other side of the street” for more than just the obvious, an opportunity to win the vacant WBC lightweight title.
Stevenson believes Gervonta Davis’ handlers will use De Los Santos’ fight versus Stevenson on Thursday night as a way to measure whether they should match Davis against Stevenson sooner rather than later. The Dominican Republic’s De Los Santos, like Davis, is a southpaw who is aligned with Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Baltimore’s Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) is considered a harder puncher than De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs), but De Los Santos is a capable boxer-puncher who has won 82 percent of his pro bouts inside the distance. Stevenson sensed that Frank Martin, the PBC-affiliated southpaw who initially accepted this fight with him, would’ve served a comparable purpose for Haymon.
De Los Santos, who is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz, happily replaced Martin, who is represented by Errol Spence Jr.’s Man Down Promotions, as Stevenson’s opponent once Martin determined that he wasn’t going to be paid enough money to face Stevenson in this 12-round, 135-pound championship match.
Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs), a two-division champion who is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., thinks Davis would face him next, but he doesn’t feel those that guide Davis’ career are as confident about making that high-profile fight in 2024. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist is convinced, however, that he will eventually fight Davis, who is one of the biggest attractions in the sport.
“I think it’s the biggest fight in the world,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I think that when it happens it need to be promoted and put out there like that. I think that me and him is two of the best fighters in the world. And honestly, I just feel like it should be worldwide. That’ll be the best fight in boxing right now, if you ask me.”
Davis, 29, and Stevenson, 26, are both pound-for-pound talents who’ve won world titles in multiple weight classes. Davis owns the WBA’s secondary lightweight crown, but Stevenson can capture the WBC belt previously owned by undefeated, undisputed lightweight champ Devin Haney by beating De Los Santos in a main event ESPN will televise from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (10:30 p.m. EDT).
Stevenson eventually will move up to the 140-pound division, yet the Newark, New Jersey native thinks he and Davis will test each other in a lightweight fight.
“Yeah, for sure. I think ’35 is the weight,” Stevenson said. “I think me and him naturally is smaller guys. I’m naturally a 35-pounder. He’s big, as far as like thickness, but he ain’t like no super-tall motherf-----. So, I think that he’ll fight at 135 for a while, too. I don’t think that he’s planning on going up.”
When the time comes to negotiate for their high-profile pay-per-view fight, Stevenson intends to be reasonable because he acknowledged during a recent open workout at Top Rank’s gym that Davis is a rare bankable boxing superstar.
“Sixty-forty? Honestly, why would I not take it?,” Stevenson said. “Man, I ain’t tryin’ to get into the business. But like I said, once again, he’s the biggest superstar in the sport, so give me the call and I’m ready to talk.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.